Civil consequences of failing to pay Alimony

In the event of non-fulfillment to pay alimony, those entitled to maintenance pursuant to art. 156 c.c., can apply to the judge in order to obtain:

  • Standing Order . The Court orders third parties (spouse’s eventual creditors – i.e. the employer or INPS, Italian Social Security) to set up a standing order in favour of the entitled spouse deducting it from any wage or credit of the obliged. It must be requested by filing an application to the Court of the place of residence of the entitled spouse. To lodge such application is required the assistance of a lawyer, who will need to attach a copy of the family and residence status of the spouses and an authentic copy of the approved consensual separation report (omologazione) or a divorce decree. With the same procedures, the assets seizure of the defaulting debtor may also be required.
  • Seizure. The Court can orders the seizure of part of the assets of the obligor (provided for by art. 156 c.c. and by art. 8 of the law on divorce n. 898/1970). This is a non-precautionary measure that, unlike the precautionary attachment, presupposes the existence of a credit already declared on a provisional basis and does not require to establish urgency (periculum in mora). The required procedure to obtain it is the same of the standing order.
  • Withdrawal of the passport. The Tutelary Judge (who is in charge for supervising the cases concerning guardianship) orders the withdrawal of the passport to the spouse who is obliged to maintain. Indeed, if two spouses have minor children each of them, in order to expatriate, must be authorized by the other or by the tutelary judge. The parent who has been denied or revoked the passport may however refer to the tutelary judge. In this case, the judge will meet the parties and evaluate the opportunity to authorize the expatriation, even if only on a temporary basis.


In cases of separation and divorce, the convictions for the payment of sums relating to maintenance obligations (even if it is established on a provisional basis) are characterized by an immediate execution which represents an enforcement order. By virtue of the latter the entitled spouse can act to collect the amounts due. In the event of default, the spouse will also be able to apply for foreclosure (pignoramento) to recover the debt gradually accrued.


However, in case it becomes increasingly difficult or even impossible to pay alimony, under Italian law the obliged spouse can apply for the modification and/or revision of the established amount of the maintenance payment.

You may also be interested in reading our article on “Criminal Consequences of failing to pay Alimony